Social Media Trends for 2019 and Implications for the Legal Market

With a new year comes change. Whether economic, social, or political, there are bound to be quite a few surprises that lie in the year ahead. In terms of social media trends, Hootsuite’s CEO Ryan Holmes recently laid out some predictions for trends to watch out for.  Let’s take a look at a few of these trends, and what implications they may have for legal professionals during the web discovery process:

Reverting to more personal networks

As Holmes points out in this first trend, people are losing trust in big tech companies due to the ongoing occurrence of privacy and data leaks. As a result, more and more people are choosing to be more selective with who they “friend” on social media, and the content that they choose to share.

For legal professionals, this could prove to be a challenge during the web discovery process. When social media users limit their network connections, it reduces the likelihood that relevant information can be discovered via their connections.

To combat this challenge, it is important to be proactive in the web discovery process and consult with experts who are trained in social media intelligence, as there are many tips and tricks to finding information that could be the key to your case, such as searching the profiles of close family and friends.

Group Logic

Building on the notion that people are becoming more conscious of privacy settings and shared content, more social media users have started joining groups. Joining a group gives social media users the ability to interact with smaller, more intimate networks that share common hobbies, interests, celebrity role models, etc. As pointed out in the article, Facebook Group Membership has increased by 40% in the past year. Another social platform, Meetup, is also gaining popularity among social media users seeking to connect with people who share interests and/or geographic proximity.

This trend impacts the web discovery process because it gives researchers the ability to identify more specific information about a subject’s interests, and possibly provide insight into their whereabouts and people they are associated with. For instance, if a researcher knows the age of the subject and where they attended school, they may be able to search Facebook for that particular graduating class’ group to search for posts, photos, and friends of the subject being investigated.

Rise of LinkedIn

Once considered a platform geared towards older demographics, LinkedIn is quickly gaining popularity among social media users, particularly millennials and recent college grads seeking to boost their professional networks. Additionally, as Holmes points out, LinkedIn remains one of the few large social networks that has not been embroiled in data and privacy scandals.

For legal professionals, this presents an opportunity to discover information on a larger pool of subjects. However, navigating LinkedIn is especially tricky due to the platform’s algorithm that notifies users when their profile has been viewed. If you’re a savvy researcher, you’ll know that LinkedIn has a few different types of viewing options, outlined below per their website:

  • Private Mode: When you view a profile in private mode, you’ll appear in that person’s “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” section as “LinkedIn Member – This person is viewing profiles in private mode.” No other information about you will be shared with the member whose profile you viewed.
  • Semi- Private Mode: When you browse in semi-private mode, your profile characteristics such as job title, company, school, and industry will be shown to the member you are viewing (for example, Consultant at State Farm, Someone at Accenture, or Student at Cornell University).
  • Public: When browsing in public mode, your name and headline will be shown to the person whose profile you viewed. This is problematic because if a subject is notified that you viewed their profile, they will most likely change all of their privacy settings and delete evidence from all other social media accounts.

In order to remain compliant during the web discovery process, it is important to take measures to gather information ethically. Partnering with a third-party service provider is a great way to mitigate risk of bias and ethics violations when navigating LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

Learn from the experts

With these things in mind, it may be beneficial to meet with your team and come up with a plan to conduct effective web discovery in 2019. There are many intricacies involved with the ever-changing trends of social media, but keeping these trends top of mind will ultimately lead to more success for your firm. As always, we are here to assist you in this process, so don’t hesitate to shoot us an email if you have questions, or are interested in learning more about how we can help.

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